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It is named for R. Crosby Kemper Sr., a member of the powerful Kemper financial clan and who donated $3.2 million, from his estate for the arena. It is the ongoing host of the American Royal livestock show.
Kemper Arena was built in 18 months in 1973–74 on the site of the former Kansas City Stockyards just west of downtown in the West Bottoms to replace the 8,000-seat Municipal Auditorium to play host to the city's professional basketball and hockey teams.
The arena was the first major project of German architect Helmut Jahn who was to go on to become an important architect of his era.
The building was revolutionary in its simplicity and the fact it did not have interior columns obstructing views. Its roof is suspended by exterior steel trusses. The nearly windowless structure contrasts to Jahn's later signature style of providing wide open glass enclosed spaces. Kemper's exterior skeleton style was to be used extensively throughout Jahn's other projects.
Death of Owen Hart
At Over The Edge 1999, when Owen Hart was to challenge The Godfather for the WWF Intercontinental Champion's title, he was performing as the Blue Blazer. The character was a superhero gimmick that parodied various wrestlers. At Over the Edge, Hart was to emulate World Championship Wrestling (WCW) wrestler Sting's (Steve Borden) ring entrance by descending from the arena rafters into the ring. The entrance was successfully tested on the November 15, 1998, episode of Sunday Night Heat; however, during his descent at Over the Edge, a cable disengaged from the safety vest he wore, causing him to fall over 70 feet from the rafters into the ring. As he fell, his chest landed on one of the ring's padded turnbuckles. The accident was not viewed by television viewers. A pre-recorded interview video was shown at the start of Hart's descent, and when the broadcast returned live, the cameras quickly turned away from the ring to the audience. Soon afterward, Jim Ross, one of the commentators of the event, informed pay-per-view viewers that Hart had fallen from the rafters, that the incident was "not a part of the entertainment" and that it was "a real situation". EMTs came down to the ring and gave Hart CPR, but he showed no response to the treatment. Bringing Hart out on a gurney, the EMTs boarded the heavily injured wrestler into an ambulance and took him to a nearby hospital in Kansas City.
After the incident, the event was halted for fifteen minutes, until Vince McMahon and other WWF Corporate officials made the decision to continue the event. Hart's coworkers, professional wrestlers and other miscellaneous workers, appeared somber after Hart's fall as they continued to do their jobs. An hour after the event restarted, Ross informed pay-per-view viewers that Hart had died at the age of 34 at a nearby hospital. The fans in attendance were not told any information about what had happened to Hart, and they did not hear the announcement of his death.
- WWF House Show - February 12, 1987.
- WWF House Show - May 10, 1987.
- WWF House Show - June 22, 1987.
- WWF House Show - July 12, 1987.
- WWF House Show - September 17, 1987.
- NWA-WCW The Great American Bash Tour 1989 Night 38 - August 4, 1989.
- NWA-WCW House Show - September 16, 1989.
- NWA-WCW House Show - April 12, 1990.
- WWF House Show - February 20, 1991.
- Nitro - May 11, 1998
- Over the Edge - May 23, 1999
- Smackdown - August 26, 1999
- Nitro - October 4, 1999
- Slamboree - May 7, 2000
- Backlash - April 21, 2002